What do you do when you are done, but not done?

I was not inspired, but I knew the story so it went fast. Less than 3 months to write and edit and edit and edit. I have the exact story that I wanted, the one that I needed to tell, and I am done. The folks I have shared it with all have the same request: More. I admit that the story is short (<15K word), character development is intentionally minimal and the subject matter is engaging which is why I am in this spot. I just don’t have any more to tell.

I have tried adding back story, more character development, more descriptive prose, more philosophical prose, adding more characters, sacrificing my kids, just about everything I can think of, but all I have managed to do was drag the story into the mud. The daughditor got into trouble for the very descriptive words used in her statement on just how bad the additions are (there are some words a 14 year old should not use while talking to her father even if she does use them correctly).

So where do you go from here? I thought about making this one part of a compilation, but it doesn’t fit well with my standard fare.

Dialogue? Especially a talky little prologue, in which characters talk not about, but around the issues to come. Might just add some texture and nuance (and energy?) to your story, without violating the self-contained nature that’s already there. Will certainly add word count.

Best example of this off the top of my head comes from Reservoir Dogs. The coffee shop scene in the open does little to advance plot or character (most of the dialogue uttered, in fact, by a character who won’t be in much of the rest of the picture). But it sets a tone for what’s to come – it grounds us the the grammar of the story, verbal and visual.

Anyway, just a thought. Obviously haven’t read your story, but it strikes me that good dialogue is always fun to write, to read, and it need not get in the way.

**Edit: Obviously, film and short stories have different rules (sort of – they’re closer than many think). That was just the first example that came to mind. Elmore Leonard does this in many of his stories as well.

…so …what`s your problem? :confused:

There are no words, that a child, of any age should not use, if there is a [i]context[/i] in which they can be, and are, used correctly That is the whole point, of the right of free expression, is it not? To oppose that right is censorship.
Take care :slight_smile:

This is close to the “yelling fire in a theater” argument. In reality there is no right of free expression in the world. Governments restrict public speech, institutions restrict private speech, and parents can (and maybe should) restrict speech in the home. I would not have said anything to the daughditor if the words were used in a written piece, or even if they were delivered less … aggressively.

For the record trouble in this case was nothing more than “that language is uncalled for”. Snort was ready to skin her alive though. I will never hear the end of how I am a bad influence on my own kids.

I feel like I need to provide the “more”. I see the points (character, short, interest) that folks make but just can’t seem to get that extra something to make it work.

Do I just let it go?


The story is mostly dialog as it is. I had to cut large amounts of junk dialog out that was just filler to get to the point where folks really liked it.

That (the stuff up there) might be the point though. In looking through my attempts at extending to “more” I did not stay true to the voice of the existing story. I moved to more prose and less dialog. I think that is why they drop like lead balls in a pool.

Thanks for the spotlight.

If it is as you want it now, better to move onto something new. There is no use forcing it.
Perhaps a similar project, or something completely different.

Come back to your original in 6 months, and you will probably see it in a different light, including many flaws, which you may want to fix, but more importantly, missed opportunities to develop it further.

Very hard to do when the story is already ingrained in your head.


Why is it you feel the need to add?

Just because something is short, that does not make it insignificant. In terms of “literature” my preference goes in this order - poems, short stories, novellas, short novels, long novels. Note how I get less into a form the longer it gets.

I would love to see the manuscript in it’s state before you felt you started “adding things”.
Is that still possible?
Only if you don’t mind, naturally.

Matt, thanks for the tip. I will give it some time once I take another look at it and see if I can’t get a couple of additions smoothed in. SC see the square peg I was putting in the round hole.


I wrote this for the daughditor. It is an attempt to talk to her in a way that I can’t seem to do any other way (my issues not hers). It worked (we talked like I had hoped that we would), but then took on a life of its own when she shared a few initial drafts with friends and took it to a public reading. The story seems to resonate with folks here. They want more.

The problem is that I had a specific purpose in mind for the existing story. While I have plenty of subject matter to extend the story with it just doesn’t seem to work. It is too forced. I think SC helped me see why. Matt also brings up a good point that I am likely too focused to see the real state of things.

My original plan was a short story that turned into a novella that was halved. Lots of crap written and whacked in the first couple of rounds. Target was youngerish women (daughditor is 13.75) but it seems to have attracted quite a number of olderish parents and women. I think the parents see it the way I intended it, as a way to start a conversation of 4. Not sure the singles, but I think it is the “romantic” factor.

Anyway, I am still making a few adjustments to gross errors and dialog. Once those are done (should be early next week) I will post it for all to read.

That’s a very interesting way for a short to emerge (reminds me slightly of Four Eyed Monsters [google them] - they spent the first 4 months of their relationship communicating solely via artistic mediums and then made a film about it]).

I think since the expectation on “Literature” is to tend towards length, people will generally want more.

And it is very tempting to give in too. As an artist, I think part of your duty is to be firm and to say “No you can’t have more - this is all that there is.”
Provided that’s the honest answer of course.

I can see a few good stories to add, but I think they should stand on their own as what I see in my mind is distinct. Once I have some time I will toss an outline together and see if his will satisfy the “more” request.

I just hate the idea that I might miss an opportunity for both creative exploration of ideas as well as maybe a few bucks if I self publish. The $$ isn’t a driving factor, but hey why not take it if it is offered?

I see what you mean.
If you feel you can do it honestly, then do it; but yeah - just don’t do to the deteriment of what you’ve already got is all I’m saying.

I suggest you refer to the Grapes of Wrath where Steinbeck inserts pieces such as the scrapyard man and the cafe owner to flesh out the work and give a different perspective on the Okies and the America they are driving through (thru).


A story should have three things to be complete.

A beginning.

A middle.

And an end.

Length matters not. Sometimes a story can be as short as threeor four lines or could end up competing with the books on Tax code for length.

What matters is the story YOU wanted to tell is now told.

What else is there?

Tell another story.